Euro 2016 Semi-Final review

Euro 2016 – Semi Finals Review – Portugal v Wales – France v Germany

It has been so fantastic … the tournament of the underdog … but surely nobody will remember Euro 2016 as anything other than another victory for the big guns.

Too much to hope that brave Wales could somehow overcome all the odds.

France are through to the final against Portugal – but is this deserved?

This is not a French golden generation.

This is not the 1958 team of Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine. This is not the side of Ballon d’Or winner Michel Platini and UEFA Euro 1984. Neither is it the glorious period under the leadership of current coach Didier Deschamps – that of three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane when France won the World Cup in 1998 and the Euros two years later.

Which is why, however much I respect Deschamps, I am rooting for Portugal in the final.

Because they do have a world class player in Ronaldo backed up by an 18 year old world class player in the making in Renato Sanches.

OK, France are living the dream.

It was their first victory over Germany in a major tournament since those 1958 heroics.

Antoine Griezmann, the tournament’s top scorer, was the difference.

He scored from the penalty spot on half-time when Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger was penalised for handball by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli in an aerial challenge with Patrice Evra, a fantastic decision in line with the high standard of refereeing throughout the tournament.

Then, with 18 minutes left, he turned in from close range after keeper Manuel Neuer could only half-clear Paul Pogba’s cross.

All hail France. Theirs should be the prize.

Wales run out of steam but do their nation proud – Time for them to qualify for the World Cup

Oh, what might have been for the red dragons of Wales, because it was there for them.

Sadly, it was back to plucky Wales from wonderful Wales.

Theirs has been a magnificent tournament but they looked jaded in going down 2-0 to Portugal in the other semi.

It was a pity but much the same happened to Iceland. They were smashed by France in the quarter finals; Wales were far from smashed but Portugal were comfortable in victory.

It had been a huge effort by Wales and it took its toll.

Aaron Ramsey, the side’s clever playmaker, out after two yellow cards, was hugely missed.

It left Gareth Bale to carry the side’s offence, he had some strong runs but Portugal largely restricted him to long range shots.

The first half was one to forget, with neither side able to make a breakthrough, the game lacking urgency and intensity.

Wales needed an early goal in the second period but it was a transformed Portugal who hit them with the old one, two, sucker punch.

First Ronaldo climbed high to bury a magnificent header as Wayne Hennessey grasped fresh air then three minutes later Nani managed to divert a scuffed Ronaldo shot past the goalkeeper who could have done little to stop either strike.

Wales huffed and puffed, pushed on the substitutes, had a go, but never seriously threatened the Portuguese goal. Frustratingly, the final ball never quite ran for the Celtic tigers.

So they headed home full of pride, a great achievement in getting so far, and a wonderful party for the whole of Wales in welcoming their heroes back.

Wales now need to build on this and do absolutely everything to qualify for the next World Cup.

England need to somehow re-discover a Gascoigne, a Lineker, the spirit and quality of 1966. Supporters are fed up of being embarrassed by wretched mediocrity.